It can be a long journey to acceptance when you're a child with a condition that makes you look different to everyone else.
Carter Blanchard, of Arkansas, used to tell his mum he hated his face and the way he looked, a result of a rare skin condition. But since meeting an adorable dog with the same condition, his mum says he is feeling much better about it.
Carter has vitiligo, which causes the destruction of facial skin pigment cells so his skin appears patchy. He was diagnosed in kindergarten, in August of 2014, and his mother Stephanie Adcock told ABC News that the adjustment was very difficult when the white patches began to appear around his eyes.
"He was at a big school with a lot of kids and his face was transforming very quickly. As he was trying to come to terms with it, he had his classmates trying to also [get used to it], because his face was changing in front of them," she said.
It affected his schooling, too: Carter says he thought if he went to school, people would be unkind. "I thought people would laugh, and tease me," he said.
A chance Google search by Stephanie uncovered Rowdy, a 14-year-old Labrador retriever from Oregon with similar markings to Carter. It turned out that Rowdy also had vitiligo, and was diagnosed in the very same month and year as Carter.
After several conversations via email with Rowdy's owner, Niki Umbenhower, Stephanie flew more than 3000km to Oregon with Carter to meet him. Incredibly, a kind person donated $5000 towards their expenses, after seeing that they hoped to meet on Oregon local news.
Stephanie said this was the turning point in Carter's mindset towards his condition. "We've come full circle," she said. "He's proud of himself. He thinks we have boring skin because we don't get to have vitiligo."
Photos show the adorable pair snuggling together, a happy smile on Carter's face.
She adds, "When we walked in I didn't feel like we were walking in for the very first time, they were family already. You could tell Rowdy knew something was going on and felt the energy of the room."
Rowdy is a vitiligo advocate, inspiring children to feel good about themselves, but sadly has recently suffered a seizure and requires expensive medical treatment. There's a GoFundMe to raise money for his vet bills, which has currently raised more than $6800 of a $10,000 goal.